Biofuels in the Automotive Industry

It is predicted that fossil fuels such as oil and gas will run out within 100 years if the current rate of consumption continues. This leaves the automotive industry with a problem, as engine development is still largely based around petroleum and fossil fuel based sources. Organisations such as the Leo Group are already using purified animal fats for the production of renewable biofuel, and while this is already used in heavy industries such as cement production and the power industry, the automotive industry has been slow to catch on.

Sugar cane residue can be used as a biofuel
Sugar cane residue can be used as a biofuel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The problem is the fact that there has been scant research into the use of biofuels, specifically those manufactured from animal fats, in the automotive industry. While some older diesel engines can be run on pure vegetable or animal oil, modern diesel engines differ in that the raw product has to be refined from raw animal oil into biodiesel, or mixed with ordinary diesel in order to work.

However, modern diesels can function well on biofuels with little or no modification. Furthermore, biodiesel helps to loosen existing engine deposits and adds to the engine’s lubricating properties by up to 65 per cent, as well as the fact that it produces far fewer harmful emissions. Power output is also comparable to ordinary diesel.

Despite all this, it still remains a neglected source of propulsion in the automotive industry. One reason for this is the industry’s continuing reliance on petrol, for which there is as yet no biofuel alternative. Petrol engines are generally able to produce more power and faster throttle response from their fuel. However, whilst diesels often require a turbocharger to produce the same high-end acceleration and throttle response as petrol engines, diesel technology is now becoming comparable to petrol in every way.

With companies such as Leo Group producing 60 million litres of biofuel per year, the scarcity and increasing expense of crude oil should be the driver that makes biofuel a popular source of power, as well as driving research into whether a similar replacement for petrol can be produced.

Companies like Leo Group have the technology to produce animal biofuel, so the market for research and investment will pay off in the long term. Petrol and fossil-fuel diesel technology has only got where it is today through research and development, so now is the time to invest in biofuels.